A week on from finishing as Britain’s highest ranked rider, Lucy Garner was full of praise for the inaugural Women’s Tour.
The Sky Academy Sports Scholar finished seventh overall in a high class field as Dutch superstar Marianne Vos reigned supreme.
In just her second season as a senior rider Garner has been in superb form and over the five days on home soil maintained that high level whilst leading a young Great Britain team.
“I was more than satisfied with the whole racing for me,” she said. “It was obviously a different experience for me because I was going into a new team and I didn’t know many of the riders.
“It was a new experience for them too because it was there first time racing that high UCI level race, I think they found it quite tough.
“For me, I did have a lot of their support but just at the end of the races, and they know themselves, they couldn’t help me at the end of the race to try and position me.
“On some of the stages I did need that help, especially with the strong winds, it was quite hard to do it by myself. But in terms of my sprinting and just having the chance to sprint again I was really, really pleased with it.”
In terms of the tour as a whole, Garner was impressed by how smoothly everything ran and the level of support the riders received despite some less than favourable weather conditions.
“It was amazing, the organisation was great, you can’t fault it really,” added Garner. “Before each race and just going through all the busy towns making sure we avoid all the cars, it was just really impressive. The whole tour had a good feel the whole time.
“The atmosphere was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, all the support we got on every single stage and all around the courses was just incredible – even when it was thrashing it down with rain there was still hundreds of people out lining the streets, watching us, which was really good.
“It does make it really, really special. Especially us women, we don’t really experience crowds like that. We have a couple of races that are next to the men’s races but even then the crowds are a lot different to us because they’re there to see the men rather than the women.
“For that race to be a women’s race and for that amount of people to come and watch us, yeah it was really impressive. It gave me goose bumps actually.”
The only disappointment for Garner came in the days after the tour when illness stopped her in her tracks. She is well on the way to recovery but will be unable to race this weekend.
“It was a real shame because this weekend was when I was supposed to be at my peak,” she remarked. “This was supposed to be my peak weekend where I was going for the wins in these races but obviously because of my illness I haven’t been training so I won’t be racing.
“Hopefully I can be back racing in two weeks, that’s what I’m hoping so we’ll see how it goes. It is a shame because I was coming into some really good form and this was supposed to be the form of my season and now this silly illness has come.”